Thursday, March 20, 2008

preventing people from going to the middle east as housemaids

The remittances of the unskilled Sri Lankan housemaids who form 70% of those who have gone overseas on term employment is the backbone of Sri Lanka’s economy. Those who currently advocate a ban are wrong in the way they are attempting to prevent the free movement of people, in short denying a person’s fundamental right to leave the country if he of she so wishes. They should in fact try to make more attractive for them to stay.

I do not agree with unskilled females leaving as I have seen the social consequences of this action being truly horrific. However the way this is reduced is by education and persuasion so that those who leave are forewarned of the consequences of their actions in some training program to lessen the social impact.

The men who encourage their wives or daughters to leave should also be included in the program to understand what may happen as a result. This means that they will not be surprised if the wife does not want to return home as she has found a way of life that is more suitable than the one she left and give reasons as to why it may happen, especially in the cases where the males are alcoholics and she is leaving to get away from the home fire.

I agree with the intention of sending skilled people, but that is not possible in a short while as the skills have to be first acquired and only then will there be a pool of skilled people to send overseas.

I notice all sorts of ruses to send people overseas. Politicians are famous for getting commitments from overseas employers. They then promise for a fee, can be as high as one million rupees to send a person to Italy on a 5 year contract. It should be free. The person paying this may sometimes be fooled as to the real terms of the contract and only discover the ruse once he has left and paid the charge. The reasoning is that the monthly salary is 200,000 and in 5 months they could pay it off. People should realize that the salary will hardly pay for living there and there may be no chance of saving the one million unless one sleeps on the streets, which they would not even contemplate in their own country. These job seekers should be told that costs are even higher than the income and that income really is insufficient to live on.

A lot of the problem is the misconceptions that people have and in order to educate them in this regard mandatory government sponsored programs that show the reality should be made a requirement of employment.

The agencies that send people should also be better regulated, as they give a very false picture which is only apparent once the person has gone and then the error cannot be rectified.

Encouragement of skilled males to go is a better way, so that the family bond is kept with the mother. Many countries only send males, especially muslim ones for this very reason. Now that we have already sent so many overseas and some females continue to go means it is unfair to prevent those from leaving.

Bilateral agreements of minimum wages must be set up, especially as the costs of living in the middle eastern countries is also skyrocketing especially in food and Sri Lankans are paying more for the food they want to eat which may not be provided by their employers who have different dietary habits.

All this is elementary stuff, which our people are ignorant about. This is an area where the government should intervene to educate. We are not providing the skills, even language skills, as knowledge of English can enhance the value of a worker and accordingly the pay received.

In summary, every one seeking employment overseas should undergo a mandatory training program to make them aware of the benefits and pitfalls of their choices. Skill acquisition should be encouraged and males should be encouraged to go and mothers should be discouraged from going. Minimum wage guidelines should be set on a bilateral basis and other worker health and safety measures enacted. Better consular facilities to help those already overseas as well as making every one aware of the laws and rights of labor in the country they are working at needs to be set up. While other export industries get subsidies this one needs a greater degree of funds spent, to make sure we as a country maximize its full potential with those who go overseas. The number of job agencies needs to be curtailed to enable better monitoring and supervision, and errant ones severely punished with hefty fines.


Anonymous said...

It would be useful if all concerned looked up the official data. The female proportion is declining. What is the fuss?

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